Yahoo Golf Talk: U.S. Open at Torrey Pines

·3 min read

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Some golf courses favor a particular skillset and Torrey Pines certainly fits that bill.

It requires an all-around skillset but one of the key skills required is power. As a par 71 that stretches out past 7,600 yards and features thick, kikuyu rough, the short hitters are going to have a tough time keeping up. There will likely be a few shorter hitters that play flawlessly and find themselves in contention down the stretch but for the most part, this week is all about the power hitters.

On top of that, putting on the tricky, poa annua greens is another obstable the field of 156 golfers will face.

Let's jump into the lab (NBC Sports Edge Driver) and see what golfers have that required length off the tee and see which golfers are comfortable on poa annua greens.

Poa Annua Putting

You either embrace the variance of poa annua putting surfaces or you complain for two days and pack your bags early.

This tricky grass is known for being a bit bumpier than other turf types used on a week-to-week basis. Agronomy has come a long ways over the last few decades but it's still tough to tame the poa annua.

There is a line you can draw across the United States and golfers that grew up north of that line are liklely more comfortable on poa annua greens while golfers that grew up in the Southeast are usually dreading the showdown.

Using the NBC Sports Edge Driver, we can look at all rounds played on poa annua greens since the start of the 2019 season, here are the top performers in strokes gained putting, at a per-round level (10-round minimum):

Louis Oosthuizen
Patrick Rodgers
Will Zalatoris
J.T. Poston
Max Homa
Matt Kuchar
Adam Hadwin
Jimmy Walker
Tom Hoge
Jon Rahm
Tony Finau
Brian Stuard
Sam Burns
Marc Leishman
Adam Scott

Sam Burns ($33): The LSU product is one of the few exceptions on the list when it comes to golfers having grown on in regions with a heavy poa annua population. It turns out Burnsy can roll his rock on any surface. That includes a +3.2 SGP round at Torrey South this February. He's not the flavor of the month any more but it wasn't too long ago when he rattled off a win at the Valspar and followed it up with a runner-up finish at the Bryon Nelson two weeks later.

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Driving Distance

Torrey Pines South is one of the longest courses on TOUR. It won't be played to its full yardage but it will still benefit the big hitters.

Geoff Ogilvy had this to say about it in 2017, "If you keep presenting Torrey Pines South, for example, where the farther you hit it the bigger advantage you have, we’re just going to go home, plug in the Trackman and hit it as hard as we can."

So, let's go with that and look at driving distance compared to the field, for every round this season. This is called Strokes Gained - Driving Distance in the NBC Sports Edge Driver tool. Here are the leaders in that category (20-round minimum):

Bryson DeChambeau
Cameron Champ
Rory McIlroy
Wyndham Clark
Dustin Johnson
Jhonattan Vegas
Joaquin Niemann
Gary Woodland
Matthew Wolff
Patrick Rodgers
Dylan Frittelli
Will Zalatoris
Sergio Garcia
Charley Hoffman
Brooks Koepka

Jhonattan Vegas ($20): The 36-year-old arrives fresh off a runner-up finish at the Palmetto Championship at Congaree. Now he heads back to a course that gives him comfort. He had this to say back in 2015, "I just feel comfortable here. Simple as that. Going back to junior golf, playing Junior World here, I had success, I almost won here fours four years ago, so good memories coming back to Torrey Pines."

Hopefully, these stats will give you some names to dive into when it comes to researching your final selections this week over at Yahoo!